Launch Questions

Our launch brought together powerful voices and frank perspectives from scholars, practitioners, advocates and policy makers in the continent and its diaspora in an important and necessary conversation:  about the need- and frames of reference for a shift in the global research ecosystem that sees African terms, interests and constituencies take their rightful place in knowledge production, and – as an element of such a systemic shift – about a necessary change in the way that global North-Africa research relationships unfold.

One key task for PARC is to help ensure that the conversation not only continues, but that it evolves to crystallise concrete directions for, and to galvanise action that can yield such change. To this end we are planning forums to further pursue key lines of argument, ideas and areas of debate that emerged in the launch.

A first step is to distill the major takeaways from the launch and to offer initial responses to the incisive and challenging questions and comments many of you posted during the event and that we did not have time to address.  We do so below, with humility, knowing that for many we do not (yet) have sufficiently clear or compelling answers – but trusting that answers-and further questions will evolve as we engage further with you.


Questions (follow link for answers)

1. African Resources, and Setting African Agendas

  • Q: How committed are African governments and the private sector to Africa’s own research? Conscious budgetary provisions have to be made and the funds made available at country at levels and AU level. Georgina Yeboah 
  • Q: As Africa thinks of resources from the north there is need for Africa to show commitment in allocating local resources to support research for Africa’s growth and prosperity. Cecilia Mbaka 

2. Equity in Knowledge Production

  • Q: To create a new mechanism for engaging and collaborating, we have to abandon all the current assumptions and common practices including the foundation of “givers” (Global North countries) and “recipients” (Global South countries) and build a new environment for local academics and researchers as well as research departments and institutions to co-create, co-produce and lead as experts in their fields. This requires both Researchers in the GS and (most importantly) the Governments in the GS to take seriously the knowledge production. How we can we bring our decision-makers on to the table? Dr. Jama Musse Jama
  • Q: Unless African leaders give priority to knowledge generation it will be impossible to have equitable research partnerships in the continent.  How can we make this happen? Cheikh Mbacké [APHRC]
  • Q: How do we ensure that Northern funders align funds to the needs of African Institutions and countries? Anonymous 

3. Incremental Change?

  • Q: Comment on what Alex has said in transformative change, totally agree that incremental changes only patch up certain areas without really addressing the beliefs and assumptions. Triple loop learning is shifting the context and stepping into a parallel universe. So changes need to be radical, fundamentally shaping the underlying patterns of our thinking and behaviour, observing ourselves as Defensive Routines. Peninah A-Kindberg 

4. Centring African Institutions

  • Q: I think the research institutions in Africa should have a forum on how to work together being guided by the wonderful conversation here. PARC can lead this. Georgina Yeboah 
  1. Providing Platforms for In-depth Conversation
  • Q: How can events such as this embrace its own aspirations and become more conversationalist?  Anonymous

5. Democratising and Decentralising Academic Research

  • Q: May I know how PARC plans to: (1) address the negative attitudes that global North Institutions, academicians and researchers have towards African Researchers, books written by Africans, and (2) make books written by Africans to become major books for all students in all institutions of Higher Learning in global North?

6. Pan-Afrikan Ideology

  • Q: Zubairu Wai has made reference to the Pan-Afrikan ideology as something that shape the approach to addressing the inequalities. To what extent has PARC considered this? Peninah A-Kindberg

7. A Needs Based Approach to Funding

  • Q: A lot of the funding for Africa’s research mostly comes from Northern institutions and funders, how do we ensure such funding is aligned to the vision and needs of the continent? Francis Naab

8. Reparations

  • Q: In relation to the Diaspora, Bristol has just passed a Reparations and Atonement motion with support of the African Heritage Communities at grassroots level. How does reparations play into the research aspect of PARC’s strategy? Peninah A-Kindberg 

9. The Western / African Model

  • Q: It seems/sounds like you all have been discussing African progress with western approaches, language, and expect success. The people deserve more and better. Anonymous 

10. Extraversion to Introversion

  • Q: Divine is on point. Please be humble, “abandon” previous approaches, and improve in the direction he suggested! Anonymous   

11. African Language

  • Q: How can African languages and linguistic translation be best embedded in research practice? Is there scope for PARC to teach African languages in Bristol (currently only at SOAS/Manchester Met in the UK, and online)? Ruth Bush, UoB 
  • Q: I note that the University of Bristol does not have a department of African languages or African studies. Is this something the Centre is hoping to address? Anonymous 

12. Developing New Research Cultures

  • Q: What is the specific goal here? EITHER use capacity building to develop the hugely skill-based training, often predicated on a strong education system from kindergarten upwards, such that Africa can participate in this northern scientific culture. OR develop a new scientific culture whereby you are not judged on the basis of conforming to standard science. I know these aren’t necessarily alternatives, but organizations like PARC need to decide where to put their efforts, right? Anonymous  

13. Africa and Technology

  • Q: Should not most of this type of talk focus on different emerging tech and how it can improve Africa? Terrence J.  

14. Knowledge Production

  • Q: As a writer, researcher now based in the UK and formerly working in a literary space in Kenya, I find a huge disconnect between formal research institutions in the North and their ways of working and the primary spaces of knowledge production on the African continent which are now based on youthful populations which are not that visible in formal institutions there (and might not be interested in anymore). How can PARC negotiate these differences in knowledge production approaches in the North and work with these youthful, mostly informal spaces in the South? Billy Kahora (UoB) 
  • Q: What is the role of creating greater level of equity of knowledge production within Africa in enabling more equitable partnerships with those outside of Africa. Anonymous

15. Decolonisation

  • Q: Institutions on the continent such as the African Union, AfDB, need to lead the charge for decolonization. For instance, how can an AU committee of experts have most members from the global north, either as individuals or representing institutions, in an area which has lots of African and Africa-based experts? Justice Nonvignon

16. Capacity Strengthening

  • Q: How do we strengthen research capacities in Africa universities? Hilda Owii 

17. Inter-African Collaboration

  • Q: Hope consideration to promote research collaboration within and among African researchers and institutions, so it’s not purely a north-south kind of initiative. Hilda Owii 

18. Pan African Congress

  • Q: The 5th PAN African Congress was held in Manchester in 1945. Is it possible that one could be held in Bristol? Kerubo Okioga 

19. Engaging the African Diaspora

  • Q: Will PARC adopt a pan-African approach to research, also working with the African diaspora in building worldwide research? Anonymous 

20. The Location of Bristol

  • Q: Why is Bristol well placed for this centre?  Anonymous 

21. Outputs and Outcomes of PARC’s Research

  • Q: Who will own the knowledge (and capitals that stem from the knowledge) produced? Anonymous 
  • Q: What kinds of mechanisms are in place to use the research outputs & outcomes of PARC into under/postgrad education & training both in African unis & at Bristol? Anonymous